Paul from De Pere, WI
How does this loss make the Packers a better team? Or since there’s no such thing as a good loss, how does this game experience help them sharpen the stone?
It’s a slice of humble pie, and we all need a few bites from time to time. It’s also a snapshot of the 2012 NFC playoffs, which is basically what the last two games the Packers have played have been. They’ve lost to the Giants and 49ers at home, and that’s the competition in the NFC. The Packers can beat those teams – they beat the Giants in New York last December – but losing to each of those teams has provided a snapshot of what those teams can do when they’re able to play their kind of game. The Giants and 49ers won up front, and the combined message from those games is the Packers are going to have to play and win at that kind of game against the Giants and 49ers to be successful in the postseason.
Tom from King George, VA
One of your mantras is “players, not plays.” Most of the time I agree with that, but in the 49ers game, there were multiple times when the defensive scheme asked players to do things they could not be expected to do. You can't expect any middle linebacker to cover Randy Moss and you can't expect any outside linebacker to cover Manningham. The defense showed signs of being better but it really looked like we got out-coached. What are your thoughts?
Sunday’s game is a classic example of winning at the point of attack, and I know of no scheme for winning at the point of attack. Yes, some schemes are better than other schemes, and sometimes one staff will scheme better than the other staff, but when you have a team backed up to its 4-yard line, and everybody in the building knows they’re going to run the ball and they’re able to run the ball, that ain’t scheme, that’s power.
Joe from Bloomington, IN
Make up your mind, Vic: Green Bay has an element of desperation. No reason for despair. We fans have a bit more than a modicum of smarts, in case you hadn't noticed. We can also read the stats, noting that the 49ers killed us on the ground. The question is why? Got a clue?
Losing to the 49ers is no cause for despair because that is a fantastic football team; it might be the best team in the league. When I spoke of desperation, it was with Thursday’s game in mind. I think the Packers need to feel an element of desperation for their game against Chicago. The potential for an 0-2 start against two teams from the NFC, one of which is from within the NFC North, and both of those games having been at home, is an ominous thought. As far as losing the battle of the running games, yeah, I have a clue why it happened: The Packers didn’t win at the point of attack and the 49ers did. Why? Because the 49ers pushed harder. Don’t make it difficult. That’s the charm of the 49ers; they make it easy to understand.
Chris from Voorhout, The Netherlands
Did you see enough of an improvement on the defense compared with last season to remain confident this team can go deep into the playoffs? I saw a lot of blown coverage, missed tackles and far too many 15-, 20-yard plays that would suggest the defensive woes have not been fixed. Until they are, it’s hard to see this team going deep into the playoffs.
All offseason, we talked about improving the pass rush and the pass defense; we never talked about improving the run defense. Now we have something new to discuss. That wasn’t good enough and that won’t work against the 49ers, and the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC may very well go through San Francisco, so the run defense must be improved. I think we’ll get another chance to evaluate the run defense this Thursday, because I fully expect the Bears to come into Lambeau with a game plan full of running plays. Let’s give it some time before we start forming long-term opinions.
Tom from New York, NY
Why is it the offensive line cannot open holes up for the running game? If this team is unable to develop a running game against good teams, we will not win in the playoffs. Your thoughts?
First of all, I think we have to acknowledge that the 49ers were No. 1 in the league against the run last season. The 49ers have outstanding personnel up front on defense, so that might be a logical reason the Packers struggled to rush for yardage yesterday. If you’re speaking about the overall lack of a running game, I think it has everything to do with commitment and continuity. This is not a run-the-ball team; it is not committed to the running game. It is committed to the passing game and running the ball only enough to make defenses respect the run. It didn’t do that yesterday; that was the problem on offense. The 49ers never had to respect the run; they made the Packers one-dimensional. I think it’s also a problem for the Packers that they’ve had a kind of musical backs situation. Since losing Ryan Grant early in 2010, they’ve seemingly been looking for a back ever since. Good running games have a chemistry between the back and the line. They know each other. The hope is that Cedric Benson will develop that chemistry with this line.
Robert from Harvel, IL
Vic, I know that the saying run the ball, stop the run is somewhat antiquated, however, I think that saying is still true in today’s game.
It’s true when you play the 49ers. They make you at least stop the run. The Packers didn’t, and that allowed the 49ers to show run and then pass, and then show pass and then run. You can do so much more by formation when you’re able to run the ball. The 49ers make you play an antiquated game. It’s like playing Navy; your linemen aren’t accustomed to playing against the wishbone and all of those cut blocks. This is a rush-the-passer league, but the 49ers make you hold the point. They’re wonderfully different.
Alex from Centreville, VA
Wondering what your thoughts were on the officials during our game? Seemed like they were very inconsistent, missing many penalties and calling several that weren't there. And the late flags bothered me.
I thought they struggled with presentation, and that started with the coin toss when the referee didn’t announce which team had won the toss, only that San Francisco would receive the kickoff. Presentation has become the referee’s most important job, because it determines the perception of the crew’s performance.
Mark from Stewartville, MN
Vic, the 49ers looked physically stronger than the Packers at the line of scrimmage. That to me was the big difference in the game. Do you agree?
Yeah, I agree. The 49ers moved the line of scrimmage; the Packers did not.
Frank from Oak Creek, WI
Will either Mike McCarthy or Ted Thompson actually do something to turn things around and fast?
Selecting defensive players with their first six picks of the draft qualifies, in my opinion, as doing something to turn things around, but one game into the season is an unrealistic speed expectation. I wrote an editorial at the end of the preseason cautioning everyone about the expectation for improvement on defense. You’ve got to give these young players time. Jerel Worthy is learning to play the Okie end. As a result, he wasn’t used much in that capacity yesterday; I think I only saw one occasion of it, when the 49ers were backed up. Nick Perry was a hand-on-the-ground end at USC; the 49ers made him drop into coverage. Give him time to learn his craft.
Don from Torrington, CT
The only time you and Mike addressed the bad fake-ref calls in Sunday's game during the in-game blog was when Mike chastised all of us for “whining and crying.” Well, chastise Aikman, too, because he saw the same bad calls I did, and he commented on them appropriately (unlike you guys). Not just bad calls, but inconsistent calls, too, and non-calls, and calls that were overturned. Here's the thing, Vic: There are better refs out there, the real refs. This isn't going to break the bank for a league full of money. Can you join with us, the fans, and say to the commish, please, we only get 16 of these games a year, pay up and ensure the integrity of the game?
The league is taking a long-term approach to this situation. The league wants to fix it for a long time, just as it fixed the labor landscape with the players when it enforced a lockout for which the commissioner was harshly criticized. I don’t see anyone complaining now about the 10-year contract that resulted. Remember the CBA of 2006? The league panicked and accepted an agreement to avoid a labor shutdown, and then instantly regretted what it had done. The agreement had to be abandoned at the first opportunity. That’s no way to run a corporation. There has to be a focus on the future.
John from Carson City, NV
I'm intrigued by your comment, “Living in the present makes us do things that decide eternity.” Are you saying careful, thoughtful planning prevents rash, spur-of-the-moment decisions?
I’m saying the prospect of short-term pain can make us do things we regret for a long time. Here’s another one for you: If it feels good, don’t do it.
Matt from Great Bend, KS
Back in middle school, I was objectively bad at football. I played only in blowouts and I made maybe one tackle all year. When I say I made a tackle, I mean the guy ran me over and tripped over me. My dad has always said eventually that story is going to evolve into me shedding a blocker and getting the guy for a loss. Any interest in contributing to the story?
I once got stuck in the Smitty’s Blaster, and they left me there … for a long time. It’s not funny.
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